Indian Express

‘Save Ganga’ gets support from Narendra Modi, other Varanasi contenders

Various government programmes have already seen thousands of crores being spent without much success. Tweet This
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The plan, however, could not succeed as it was mired in corruption and poor strategy, while its second phase also failed to make much headway. The plan, however, could not succeed as it was mired in corruption and poor strategy, while its second phase also failed to make much headway.

Thirty two years and thousands of crores of rupees later, the fight to clean Ganga is now pinning hopes on a high-profile Lok Sabha battle in Banaras, where this sacred river becomes million-times more polluted than the level fit for bathing.

Hopeful of their cause finally moving from ghats of Benaras to the Parliament, proponents of ‘Save Ganga Campaign’ have secured commitments from BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal and others in poll fray from this holy city.

The campaign was launched by non-government organisation Sankat Mochan Foundation’s founder president late Veer Bhadra Mishra in 1982, while his son Vishwambhar Nath Mishra is spearheading the cause since death of his father last year. The foundation, whose mission is to ensure “not a drop of sewage water in Ganga”, had managed to secure way back in 1986 the support from the government with the launch of a ‘Ganga Action Plan’. The plan, however, could not succeed as it was mired in corruption and poor strategy, while its second phase also failed to make much headway.

Vishwambhar Mishra, who is now mahant (head priest) of the famous Sankat Mochan Temple like his father and belongs to one of the most respected families in the city, said that no plan can succeed unless it is ensured that all kinds of sewage  discharge into the river is stopped totally.

“We have talked to Modi about our campaign and he has assured us that necessary steps would be taken to ensure success of our campaign,” Mishra said. He has also secured similar assurances from Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal, who is fighting against Modi. “Besides, Congress, which has fielded Ajay Rai in Lok Sabha polls, has also committed his support,” he said.The gravity of situation can be gauged from the fact that Ganga water in Benaras is million-times more polluted than the level fit for bathing, Mishra said. Ironically, the Ganga enters Benaras fully clean, but gets polluted by the sewage discharged through drains and sewers from the city, he laments.

Various government programmes have already seen thousands of crores being spent without much success. “The thing is you do not even need to spend any huge money to work on Ganga and all you need is to change your system. “There is no point in wasting money if there is no fool-proof plan. There is no point in even taking money from World Bank or other organisations if you are not able to implement the project in an effective manner,” Mishra said.

“The good thing is there seems to be political will now and this needs to be taken up a a dedicated project. The continued…

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